The Making Of "I'm Not In Love": Dennis Englewood Vs. 10cc
- Publication date
- heartbreak songs, sad songs, breakup songs, 10cc, I'm Not In Love, Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman, Pop Music, Ballad
"I'm Not in Love" is a song by English group 10cc, written by band members Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman. It is notable for its innovative and distinctive backing track, composed mostly of the band's multitracked vocals. Released in the UK in May 1975 as the second single from the band's third album The Original Soundtrack, it became the second of the group's three number-one singles in the UK between 1973 and 1978, topping the UK singles chart
for two weeks. The song was also the band's breakthrough hit worldwide,
reaching number one in Ireland and Canada and number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, as well as reaching the top ten in Australia, New Zealand and several European countries.
Written mostly by Stewart as a riposte to his wife's declaration that
Stewart did not tell her he loved her often enough, "I'm Not in Love"
was originally conceived as a bossa nova song played on guitars, but the other two members of the band, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme,
disliked the track and it was abandoned. However, after hearing members
of staff continue to sing the melody around their studio, Stewart
persuaded the group that they should give the song another chance, to
which Godley replied that for the song to work it needed to be radically
changed, and suggested that the band should try and create a new
version using just voices.
"I'm Not in Love" has enjoyed lasting popularity, with over three million plays on US radio since its release, and it won three Ivor Novello Awards in 1976 for Best Pop Song, International Hit of the Year, and Most Performed British Work. It has featured in the films The Virgin Suicides, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Indecent Proposal, Cherish, Whatever, Hunky Dory, Jappeloup, The Stud, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, He's Just Not That Into You, and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. The song has been covered by numerous artists, most notably by the American band Will to Power, whose version reached the US and Canadian top ten in 1991.
Writing and composition
came up with the idea for the song after his wife, to whom he had been
married for eight years at that point, asked him why he didn't say "I
love you" more often to her. Stewart said, "I had this crazy idea in my
mind that repeating those words would somehow degrade the meaning, so I
told her, 'Well, if I say every day "I love you, darling, I love you,
blah, blah, blah", it's not gonna mean anything eventually'. That
statement led me to try to figure out another way of saying it, and the
result was that I chose to say 'I'm not in love with you', while subtly
giving all the reasons throughout the song why I could never let go of
this relationship." Stewart wrote most of the melody and the lyrics on
the guitar before taking it to the studio, where Gouldman offered to
help him complete the song. Gouldman suggested some different chords for
the melody, and also came up with the intro and the bridge section of
the song. Stewart said that the pair spent two or three days writing the
song, which at that point had a bossa nova rhythm and principally
featured guitars, before playing it to Godley and Creme. Stewart
recorded a version with the other three members playing the song in the
studio on traditional instruments – Creme on guitar, Gouldman on bass
and Godley on drums – but Godley and Creme disliked the song,
particularly Godley, as Stewart later recalled: "He said, 'It's crap',
and I said, 'Oh right, OK, have you got anything constructive to add to
that? Can you suggest anything?' He said, 'No. It's not working, man.
It's just crap, right? Chuck it.' And we did. We threw it away and we
even erased it, so there's no tape of that bossa nova version."
Having abandoned "I'm Not in Love", Stewart and Gouldman turned their attention to the track "Une Nuit A Paris", which Godley and Creme had been working on and which would later become the opening track on The Original Soundtrack album. However, Stewart noticed that members of staff in the band's Strawberry Studios
were still singing the melody of "I'm Not in Love", and this convinced
him to ask the other members of the group to consider reviving the song.
Godley was still sceptical, but came up with a radical idea, telling
Stewart, "I tell you what, the only way that song is gonna work is if we
totally mess it up and we do it like nobody has ever recorded a thing
before. Let's not use instruments. Let's try to do it all with voices."
Although taken aback by the suggestion, Stewart and the others agreed
to try Godley's idea and create "a wall of sound" of vocals that would
form the focal point of the record.
Stewart spent three weeks recording Gouldman, Godley and Creme singing "ahhh" 16 times for each note of the chromatic scale,
building up a "choir" of 48 voices for each note of the scale. The main
problem facing the band was how to keep the vocal notes going for an
infinite length of time, but Creme suggested that they could get round
this issue by using tape loops. Stewart created loops of about 12 feet
in length by feeding the loop at one end though the tape heads of the
stereo recorder in the studio, and at the other end through a capstan
roller fixed to the top of a microphone stand, and tensioned the tape.
By creating long loops the 'blip' caused by the splice in each tape loop
could be drowned out by the rest of the backing track, providing that
the blips in each loop did not coincide with each other. Having created
twelve tape loops for each of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale,
Stewart recorded each loop to a separate track of the mixing desk. This
effectively turned the mixing desk into a musical instrument complete
with all the notes of the chromatic scale, which the four members
together then "played", fading up three or four channels at a time to
create "chords" for the song's melody. Stewart had put gaffer's tape
across the bottom of each channel, which meant it was impossible to
completely fade down the tracks for each note: this resulted in the
constant background hiss of vocals heard throughout the song. The same voice loop effect was used in Billy Joel's ballad "Just the Way You Are", released two years later.
A basic guide track was recorded first in order to help create the
melody using the vocals, but the proper instrumentation was added after
the vocals had been recorded. In keeping with Godley's idea to focus on
the voices, only a few instruments were used: a Fender Rhodes electric piano played by Stewart, a Gibson 335 electric guitar played by Gouldman for the rhythm melody, and a bass drum sound played by Godley on a Moog synthesizer
which Creme had recently purchased and learnt how to program. The drum
sound that was created was very soft and more akin to a heartbeat, in
order not to overpower the rest of the track. The song does not feature a
standard bass guitar line, but Gouldman added a bass guitar solo during
the middle eight of the song, and Creme played piano during the middle eight and the bridge.
The middle eight originally included lyrics, but Stewart and Gouldman
were not happy with them and removed them, with Creme's piano
replicating the original melody of the discarded lyrics. The middle
eight and the outro also feature a toy music box which was recorded and double tracked out of phase.
Once the musical backing had been completed Stewart recorded the lead
vocal and Godley and Creme the backing vocals, but even though the song
was finished Godley felt it was still lacking something. Stewart said,
"Lol remembered he had said something into the grand piano mics when he
was laying down the solos. He'd said 'Be quiet, big boys don't cry' —
heaven knows why, but I soloed it and we all agreed that the idea
sounded very interesting if we could just find the right voice to speak
the words. Just at that point the door to the control room opened and
our secretary Kathy [Redfern] looked in and whispered 'Eric, sorry to
bother you. There's a telephone call for you.' Lol jumped up and said
'That's the voice, her voice is perfect!'"
The group agreed that Redfern was the ideal person, but Redfern was
unconvinced and had to be coaxed into recording her vocal contribution,
using the same whispered voice that she had used when entering the
control room. These whispered lyrics would later serve as the
inspiration for the name of the 1980s band Boys Don't Cry.
Release and promotion
According to Stewart, at the time of recording The Original Soundtrack the band was already being courted by Mercury Records (part of the Phonogram group) to leave Jonathan King's small UK Records
label, where they were struggling financially. He said: "I rang them. I
said come and have a listen to what we've done, come and have a listen
to this track. And they came up and they freaked, and they said, 'This
is a masterpiece. How much money, what do you want? What sort of a
contract do you want? We'll do anything.' On the strength of that one
song, we did a five-year deal with them for five albums and they paid us
a serious amount of money."
Despite impressing their new label with the track, Phonogram felt that
it was not suitable for release as a single due to its length, and
released "Life Is a Minestrone" as the first single from The Original Soundtrack
instead. However, many influential figures in the music industry were
demanding that "I'm Not in Love" be released as a single, and Mercury
eventually bowed to the pressure and released it as the second single
from the album. The band were forced to edit the track down to four
minutes for radio play, but once it charted pressure from the public and
the media caused the radio stations to revert to playing the full
Released in May 1975, "I'm Not in Love" became the band's second
number-one single and stayed at the top of the UK singles chart for two
weeks from 28 June. In the US the record peaked at number two in on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, deprived of the top spot by a different number-one song each week (Van McCoy's "The Hustle", The Eagles' "One of These Nights", and the Bee Gees' "Jive Talkin'").
In the UK the single was released in its full length version of over
six minutes, while in the US and Canada it was released in an edited
3:42 version, and with a different B-side.
Will to Power version
Will To Power recorded the song for their album Journey Home,
releasing as the first single from the album in 1990. It was the band's
last top ten hit, reaching number 7 on the pop charts in both the US
Deni Hines version
In 1996, the Australian singer songwriter Deni Hines released "I'm Not in Love" as the fourth single from her debut album Imagination (1996). At the ARIA Music Awards of 1997, "I'm Not in Love" was nominated for two awards - ARIA Award for Best Female Artist losing to "Mary" by Monique Brumby and ARIA Award for Best Pop Release losing to "To the Moon and Back" by Savage Garden.
Following their debut album, the English trip hop band Olive
recorded a cover of the song. At the cusp of their new record contract
with Maverick Records at the time, the band debuted the song on the
label's soundtrack for the Madonna film The Next Best Thing before releasing it as the debut single from their second album, Trickle.
Fronted by the lone vocals of singer Ruth-Ann Boyle,
the song simulated the backing tracks of the original; the most audible
modification made to the song is a percussion track in the style of drum and bass, turning the song into an upbeat dance track.
Accompanied by dance-oriented remixes on the single release, the song gained sufficient nightclub play to reach number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart (on the week of 1 July 2000), as well as airplay on dance-hits format radio.
Other cover versions
"I'm Not in Love" has been recorded by Petula Clark, Hervé Vilard (French and Spanish versions in 1975), Richie Havens, Dee Dee Sharp-Gamble, Amy Grant, Grandaddy, Stanley Turrentine, Chris Standring, Johnny Logan, Richard Clayderman, Krisma, Undercover, George Monroe, with a more danceable cover version, in 1989, Deborah Blando
– whose version in Portuguese, "Somente O Sol (Only the Sun)", was a
big hit in Brazil thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack of the soap
opera Corpo Dourado (Golden Body).
Other versions have been recorded by Dennis Englewood, Julia Fordham, The Pretenders, Mike Francis, Brotherhood of Man, Red Red Meat, John O'Banion, Outrageous Cherry, Chyp-Notic, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Päivi Kautto-Niemi, The BB Band, Geb.el, Gloritone, Tori Amos, Unfinished Thought, Donny Osmond, Rick Springfield, Queen Latifah, Joey Kid from the group Trilogy, Lazlo Bane, Tex Perkins & His Ladyboyz, Rozz Williams (Accept the Gift of Sin), Juice, F. R. David, Peggy Lee and Japanese singer Ryohei. Former Supreme Scherrie Payne had a club hit with her version of the song in 1982 on Megatone Records.
British scouse house band Ultrabeat recorded a dance version of the song in 2006 with All Around the World records. The song is taken from their debut album called Ultrabeat - The Album and it appeared on Clubland 10 as "I'm Not in Love 2006".
In 2010, Rock Sugar made a remix-cover of this song and Judas Priest's "Breaking the Law" called "Breaking the Love" on their album Reimaginator. Also in 2010, Brazilian singer and actress Marisa Orth recorded it for her debut album Romance Volume II.
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